Is it easier to complete a three-game sweep, or to avoid it?

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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As the old saying goes, it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season. In reality, it’s not.

According to the NFL, Sunday night’s game between the Saints and the Buccaneers will be the 33rd instance of teams meeting in the postseason after one completed a two-game sweep of the other in the regular season. (The Saints beat the Bucs twice.)

The team that accomplished the sweep has a record of 20-12 in the playoff game. When playing at home, the team that swept that opponent has a record of 17-7.

The most recent meeting of teams that had met twice in the regular season, with one sweeping the other, came in the 2017 postseason. The Saints, after beating the Panthers twice, hosted them in the wild card round. New Orleans won round three and completed the sweep, 31-26.

The team that pulled off the swept has a distinct psychological edge. In an observation that is attributed primarily to Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, the team that was swept in the regular season thinks it can win round three. The team that accomplished the sweep knows it can beat the opponent.

In this specific case, Saints coach Sean Payton a 4-0 record against Bruce Arians during his tenure as coach of the Buccaneers. Including Arians’ time as coach of the Cardinals, Payton’s record against Arians is 6-1.

Of course, this situation involves somewhat different dynamics. The first meeting this year came in Week One, the first time Tom Brady ever wore a Tampa Bay game-day uniform. The second came in Week Nine, the first time Antonio Brown ever wore a Tampa Bay game-day uniform. Currently, the Buccaneers are firing on all cylinders, with Brady having 17 games under his belt and a wide array of weapons available: Brown, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Scotty Miller, Cameron Brate, and Leonard Fournette.

Then there’s this: In the divisional round, the team that went 2-0 has a record of only 6-4 when trying to get to 3-0.

Thus, while it’s generally not as hard as believe to beat a team three times in one season, it quite possibly will be more difficult for the Saints to beat the Buccaneers on Sunday night than it was in Week One or Week Nine.

33 responses to “Is it easier to complete a three-game sweep, or to avoid it?

  1. Tough call. Im going to go with the home team but the lack of fans in the stadium makes that a little nervy.

  2. I look at those stats and come to the opposite conclusion.
    If you’ve beaten a team twice, and that only gives you a 70% chance of the threepeat, it shows it’s a hard thing to do.

  3. I don’t give a damn what anyone says, I am not betting against Tom Brady in the playoffs. Period.

    The Saints didn’t look good last week against a beat up Bears team that penalized itself out of contention. Buccaneers have better players and should win this.

  4. The 2010 Patriots failed to beat the Jets in their divisional round game, after sweeping them in the regular season. And, the Saints’ defense allowed the Vikings to score 33 points a few weeks ago. Brees is still recovering from his ribs’ injury, which he sustained while playing against none other than the Buccaneers. And, folks here are delusional if they think Brady is going to lose to the same team three times in the same season. It’s all a setup. Both the Buccaneers and Ravens are winning.

  5. Chickensalad43
    The saints dominated the time of possession and held the bears offence to understand 100 yards of passing until the last drive. It was a very dominating performance.

  6. That win streak to end the year was just like the Bears. All against bad teams. Bucs will lose this game as Brady is awful vs anyone with a pass rush.

  7. Including Arians’ time as coach of the Cardinals, Payton’s record against Arians is 6-1.

    —-

    This is why I expect the Saints to win again. Payton owns Arians, even going back to his Arizona years. Some coaching styles just match up better against certain opponents, and this is one of them. Honestly, Dirk Koetter, as bad of a coach as he was, coached better against the Saints, one of those oddities of life.

  8. I believe the Saints will win but I’m never going to be a fool and bet $$$$ against Brady. Most of the time he always finds a way. Just hoping for a good game.

  9. Bluestree says:
    January 16, 2021 at 10:57 am
    I look at those stats and come to the opposite conclusion.
    If you’ve beaten a team twice, and that only gives you a 70% chance of the threepeat, it shows it’s a hard thing to do.
    —————————————————————————————————-
    I’m sure you would use that percentage even if the losing team lost 100-0 both times. You probably also think that if you played the Jets once and beat them 100-0 that the next game there is a 50% chance they could win. Just using your thinking here.

  10. gallopinghost says:
    January 16, 2021 at 11:39 am
    Name one good team the Yucs beat. I’ll wait

    ————————

    Packers

    ———————————————————-
    I think that was the idea of question. Only one in 17 games. They hosted the Packers in the one game that the Packers came out flat. It generally happens to every good team once or twice a season. Like the Bucs’ second game against the Saints (though the first one wasn’t as close as the score would indicate due to a garbage time touchdown by the Bucs).

  11. History has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Saint’s chances of beating the Bucs this weekend.

    Before the season, the odds of the Saints beating the Bucs 3 times was pretty low. But now that the first two games are history, the odds of winning 3 in a row are exactly the same as the odds of winning one game this weekend.

    It’s like flipping a coin. The odds of getting4 heads in arow is 6.25%. but after getting 3 heads in a row, the odds of getting heads on that 4th flip is still 50%.

  12. I don’t understand the argument “the Bucs only beat one playoff team” Yes, and so did the Aints. (Chicago)

    If it’s a close game the Bucs win, if it’s a two TD difference it will be the Aints. The NFL is salivating for Brady v Rodgers and Jackson v Mahomes next week. Watch for all the calls to go that way.

  13. BuckyBadger says:

    That win streak to end the year was just like the Bears. All against bad teams. Bucs will lose this game as Brady is awful vs anyone with a pass rush.
    _______

    Here, I’ve got to disagree. Yes, his stats are lower when rushed. But a lot of that time, he’s deliberately throwing the ball away (out of bounds or at a receiver’s feet) to avoid sacks, interceptions and intentional grounding calls. Those are smart moves, because he’s not producing negative yards for his team.

  14. Funny to say Brees chokes. In last 3 losses he’s brought the team back to lead or tie and the defense didn’t hold it. No reason to mention the Rams game, though. They bet Phil in playoffs year after Phil won SB

  15. bucsandbolts says:
    January 16, 2021 at 2:45 pm
    (deleted)The NFL is salivating for Brady v Rodgers and Jackson v Mahomes next week. Watch for all the calls to go that way.
    ——————-
    The only storyline the NFL probably dreads is if the Rams win. The NFL will have no problems building hype with any other matchup. They’d love a Brees vs Rodgers matchup (which gets to a second SB?) and every possible AFC matchup features two exciting, mobile QBs and several other storylines.

  16. And of course the Saints beat the Bucs twice…

    ——————————

    bucsandbolts says:
    January 16, 2021 at 2:45 pm
    I don’t understand the argument “the Bucs only beat one playoff team” Yes, and so did the Aints. (Chicago)

  17. Watching NFL Network last night. Michael Robinson said “We all know how difficult it is to beat the same team three times in one season”. James Jones replied “Yes, especially when it is a team from your division”.

    To Michael – please check your facts first. To James – the ONLY way a team can play another three times is if they are indeed in the same division.

    Hard to believe these guys get paid good money simply to follow the NFL and yet they make idiotic statements such as these.

  18. In 2008, the Steelers swept the Ravens in 3 close contests.

    In that 2008 AFC Championship game, the Ravens (with an injury depleted offense) put up a hell of a fight against Pittsburgh.

    It was that season that really put this rivalry on the map.

  19. There are lies, there are damn lies, and there are statistics. With playoff football, toss the stats. No game is easy or the outcome predictable.

  20. This is a playoff game.

    The team that has Tom Brady is the one with the advantage.

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